The Honest Juror

Sometimes curating the news can be downright painful. I literally wonder at least once every day who or what is crazier — what I’m seeing, or me? For instance, earlier this week I saw a piece on Yahoo News: Juror says he’s too homophobic and racist to serve, now faces prosecution.

OK, homophobia and racism are bad, but what threw me about the article was that this dude, who openly professed what appears to be his honest opinions in a letter to the judge, is facing prosecution. My first question was, why? My second one was, for what? This version of the article didn’t say what law this individual might have broken.

In this scenario I guess honesty sets a bad precedent on multiple levels. One, the courts may want to nip this kind of juror avoidance tactic in the bud lest everyone and their mother suddenly turn up racist in an effort to shirk their civic duties. But two, and this is the one that makes my brow wrinkle, is this dude actually being punished for being honest?

If he is being truthful, and we’ll go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt since we can’t prove otherwise, it’s best he not be responsible for judging the merits of any legal proceeding because by his own admission he can’t be fair. He says:

“I hold extreme prejudices against homosexuals and black/foreign people and couldn’t possibly be impartial if either appeared in court.”

A lack of honesty is why diversity work is two steps forward, three steps back. You can’t build awareness, change behavior or introduce and promote a new way of thinking if you don’t know where people stand, what you’re dealing with or where people are coming from. Unknown variables lead to misunderstandings, and with subject matter as controversial and potentially volatile as diversity, it pays to have all of the cards on the table. That way, interested parties can do what’s always necessary — move forward.

I’ll just have to assume there’s more to this story than my little brain can contemplate at first glance.